Sibelius 2023.2 advances score subsets and dynamic guitar staves


Avid has released Sibelius 2023.2 for desktop and mobile. This release, the first of 2023, improves upon two major features introduced last year: score subsets, which first appeared in the previous release (2022.12); and dynamic guitar staves, which appeared in the 2022.7 release. Specifically, score subsets can now have layout and note spacing that are independent of each other, and of the full score. Dynamic guitar staves gain independent elements as well.

The Sibelius 2023.2 release addresses a couple other areas, too: the default handling of tuplets is refined; and the ManuScript language gains the ability to export audio in all of the bit depths and sample rates that Sibelius supports. Sibelius 2023.2 also fixes some bugs, including one particularly irritating problem introduced in 2022.12 as a side effect of score subsets, where an empty blank part remained in the file after deleting an instrument.

Score subset improvements

It has become evident with the ongoing regular releases of Sibelius that the first iteration of a new feature is rarely the final say on the matter. This was true for score subsets, a new feature in Sibelius 2022.12. It’s a double-edged sword: on one hand, it’s exciting to get access to something that’s new; on the other hand, we often have to wait for a future release cycle for the feature to become more generally usable.

Score subsets, you’ll recall, are, as the name implies, versions of the full score that contain a subset of the complete instrumentation, each of which can be created and retained independently of the full score and the parts. They have a number of practical uses: creating a reduced orchestra version, a MIDI sketch file, or a piano reduction were among some of the ways to make use of this feature that I mentioned in the review of the 2022.12 release.

You can consult that review (or the Sibelius documentation) for detailed instructions on how to create a score subset; in brief, you can select staves and from Parts > Create, click Score Subset. Or, you can type Make into Score Subset from the Command Search bar; alternatively, without selecting anything in the score, go to Parts > Parts & Score Subsets > New and create a score subset in the same way you’d create a new part.

Once you do that, you’ll have a nice new score subset, with the ability to have different Document Setup settings for each score subset. This includes things like page size, margins, page orientation, and staff size.

Break for breaks

In 2022.12, though, there was a glaring impediment that made the feature useless for many scenarios — the inability to have independent layout marks, such as page and system breaks, in each score subset, the way you can with parts.

In Sibelius 2023.2, this impediment has been cleared — literally “unlocking” the feature. Remember our example from last time? We had a tabloid landscape score with eight bars per page…

…but a letter portrait score we wanted to be four bars per page…

…and we were stuck. In Sibelius 2023.2, though, that score subset, if you created it in Sibelius 2022.12, will still open with those same layout marks — but you can now unlock it and/or apply new system and page breaks that apply only to that particular score subset. In this example, I simply added a break at the end of bar 8, which split the system in this conductor score nicely, without disrupting the layout of the full score.

Do note that the Layout > Auto Breaks settings are not independent in score subsets, however. In the above example, if you’ve set the full score to automatically break every eight bars, you’ll need to manually override it every four bars in the conductor score; you wouldn’t be able to have an independent Auto Breaks setting. So, it’s probably best to disable Auto Breaks entirely if your score subset(s) will have significantly different layout(s) than the full score, which could be mildly inconvenient if you rely upon this setting to help speed up the casting off process.

Independent note spacing

Note spacing is also now independent among score subsets in Sibelius 2023.2. This is helpful especially when lyrics are involved, when you might need to make space in one layout but not another.

This essentially works like note spacing in parts; each one can be spaced independently from each other, and from the full score. (This oldie-but-goodie Scoring Notes post can provide you with a bevy of tips on how to control horizontal note spacing in Sibelius.)

Copy layout

Another similarity with parts: You can now copy the layout from the score to a score subset, or from a score subset to another score subset … or, for the first time, from the score (or score subset) to a part, or vice versa. This could be a very powerful and useful feature if you’ve formatted a part and have decided you want to use it for the score or a score subset, but keep in mind, a lot of settings like page size, system object positions, and more will come along for the ride. Use with care!

Copy Layout is found in Parts > Layout and was previously named Copy Part Layout and is generally most helpful to quickly replicate the layout of parts that are similar (such as copying from a Flute 1 to a Flute 2 part) or otherwise identical but for an alternate transposition, as described in further detail here.

Other score subset improvements


It’s now possible to export PDFs of score subsets using File > Export > PDF; you’ll see score subsets in the list along with parts.

If you’re making good use of your tokens (and you are, right?), the existing numerical scheme for the score and parts is retained: The full score is number 00, and the parts begin with 01.

The score subsets will have the number 00 followed by the number of the score subset: i.e., 00 (1), 00 (2), 00 (3):

This way, the numbering of your parts will always remain consistent, regardless of the presence or quantity of score subsets in the file.


You can also now cycle through score subsets using the same shortcuts for Previous Part and Next Part. The order will be the score; any score subsets; and then any parts.

Blank parts bug fixed (and remedy for existing files)

Importantly, a particularly irritating problem introduced in Sibelius 2022.12 as a side effect of score subsets, where an empty blank part remained in the file after deleting an instrument, has been fixed. You may have encountered a situation like this, if you deleted any instruments in 2022.12, even if you did not have any score subsets in the file:


Although this no longer happens in 2023.2 when you delete an instrument, files that contain blank parts will still have them when opened in 2023.2. To the rescue once again comes our hero, Bob Zawalich, who had a supertool at the ready: the plug-in Delete Empty Parts will clean this up nicely for you. The easiest way to grab this is in Sibelius’s File tab > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins, where you’ll find it in the Other category.

Then run the plug-in via Command Search or from Home > Plug-ins, and in a moment, all will be fixed up nicely for you.

(We’ll take this opportunity to remind you that a fine place to discover Sibelius plug-ins is at the NYC Music Services Resources page; click Sibelius Plug-ins and Feed for a searchable list of all freely available plug-ins as well as a feed of the most recently added and updated ones.)

Dynamic guitar staves become more independent

Dynamic staves for guitar notation were introduced in Sibelius 2022.7, allowing for conventional notation to be displayed on one staff that is dynamically linked to a second staff displaying guitar tab notation, like so.

Until today’s release, those two staves were quite firmly joined at the hip; if you moved slurs, a note’s articulation, and even rhythm dots — or flipped a stem or changed the size of cue note — the same change would be reflected on the dynamically linked guitar stave.

In Sibelius 2023.2, though, all these things are independent, which is a very welcome improvement for the usability of this feature.

The following objects that can be independent between staves are:

  • Note Stem Direction
  • Note Cue Size
  • Note Articulation Y position
  • Note Dot X position
  • Slurs flip position
  • Note Parenthesis

The usefulness of these items may vary for you, but here’s a rather non-sensical example to illustrate:

The tab staff is subservient to the top notation staff and effectively functions like a dynamic part in this respect; if you make a change to the top notation staff, it is reflected in the tab staff; but if you make a change in the tab staff, it is only reflected in that staff.

If View > Invisibles > Differences In Parts is checked, the differences will be colored orange (yes, even though a dynamic staff is not really a part).

One interesting tidbit as a result of this: You can now have a note parenthesis show in a part (yes, a real part) and not in the score, or vice-versa. This isn’t limited to guitar staves; it’s available in any instrument.

“Slur geometry” are also newly independent in 2023.2, meaning that you can control the left and right curves of a slur on a dynamic staff independently from the main staff, but not offered (yet) is the ability to independently change the positions of the left- and right-most handles, formally known as the Offset and End X and Y positions. For this, we may need to wait for a future Sibelius update.

Audio export options in ManuScript

If you need to use Sibelius to crank out demos or other audio files, and need to deliver files in a specific format, bit depth, and sample rate, ManuScript — Sibelius’s scripting language undergirding its plug-ins — just became a lot more useful for you.

This is fairly technical stuff, but suffice it to say that even though Sibelius supported exporting many different bit depths via File > Export > Audio, it used to be possible only to export at 16 bit 44.1 kHz using the SaveAsAudio function in ManuScript. Now, as of Sibelius 2023.2, you can access all of the bit depths and sample rates that Sibelius supports.

In addition to the SaveAsAudio improvements, there’s now an entirely new ManuScript function: SaveAsCompressedAudio, which lets plug-ins export MP3 files for the first time.

Taken together, with the right plug-in(s), these updates potentially allow you to mass-create production-ready files directly from Sibelius without having to convert them in another program.

For a general overview of how bit depth and sample rates affect audio files, have a listen to the episode of the Scoring Notes podcast entitled “Sample rate, bit depth, bit rate, and you(r ears)“, and, if you want to learn about the technical implementations in Sibelius, read the Sibelius documentation for more information.

Other new features and improvements

A few more items of note in Sibelius 2023.2:


Tuplets now have Auto Bracket turned on by default.

In Appearance > Reset Beam Groups, and in the corresponding area in Time Signature > More Options > Beam and Rest Groups… “Separate tuplets from adjacent notes” is now off by default.

Previously it was on by default, and you needed to go through the following series of steps:

This should hopefully result in some easier-to-read scores.

Command Search

There’s a nice little improvement here where, when the Command Search box is pre-filled due to a previous search, the results for the pre-filled text are shown immediately. This saves needing to type more letters or a return to execute the same command over and over.

One other tiny tweak: When using Esc to exit Command Search, Sibelius no longer blasts the selection (if any) in the score.

Wildcard warning

Better late than never: The warning dialog that shows when editing a piece of text that contains a wildcard has been revised to reflect the  feature, introduced in 2022.5, where wildcards can be assigned directly in the text object. Continue Editing, which was previously the “No” option, has now been made the default, and Go to Score Info, previously the “Yes” option, is the alternative choice.

Scoring Express fonts on Mobile

It’s not possible for a user to install third-party fonts for use on Sibelius for iOS or iPadOS; the developer must do so directly. Sibelius 2023.2 for Mobile brings along the Tinos and Arimo fonts, which we first included in a major Scoring Express update last year when the Dorico and templates were first introduced. (Sibelius for Mobile had previously included support for the other Scoring Express fonts, such as the Norfolk and Pori music fonts, and most of the text fonts.)

Thanks to Avid for supporting this and ensuring that Sibelius scores created with Scoring Express appear the same on mobile as they do on desktop!

Bug fixes and more

In addition to the fixes mentioned above, there are a number of other fixes and enhancements in the 2023.2 update. Some affect both desktop and mobile; others affect only one or the other. Consult the official Avid post for a more complete list.


The Sibelius 2023.2 desktop update is free for all Sibelius users with active subscriptions and upgrade plans. The updated installers for desktop are available through users’ Avid accounts and through Avid Link.

The Sibelius 2023.2 iOS/iPadOS update is available in the usual way, and will be delivered automatically, or, if you’ve disabled automatic updates, you can manually update the app on your device.

A reminder that if you’re an existing Sibelius customer with an active support plan or subscription, you get the mobile version at the same tier at no extra charge. If you have a subscription to Sibelius Artist (mid-tier) on your Mac or PC, that will carry over to Sibelius Artist for Mobile, and the same for Sibelius Ultimate — a Mac or PC subscription allows you full access to Sibelius Ultimate on iPhone and iPad.

Learn more

For the latest information about compatibility for Finale, Sibelius, Dorico, and MuseScore, as well as links to the latest news and reviews about product releases, please see the Scoring Notes Product Guide.

Avid also has a “What’s New in Sibelius” page highlighting the features in recent Sibelius updates.


  1. Bob Zawalich

    Great review, Philip – thanks!

    The plugin Export Audio Score and Parts has been updated to be able to use the new mp3, bit depth and sample rate features. It can serve as an example for how you use those commands in a plugin. Use File>Plug-ins>Install plug-ins to install or update this plugin.

  2. Jorge Grundman

    Thank you very much for this exquisite review. It’s better than the AVID blog explaining the new features.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Jorge! I am glad that you found it useful.


    It’s 2023 now but the UI font is stilll Lucida Grande…

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